Vol 2:20 Being a Missional People: Living as “Living Stones”

Being connected to Jesus Christ as his disciples, as ones who worship him, we are in danger of others identifying us with their images of him. Many of go about trying to change the image of Christ in the world so that we in the wake of such renewed imagining of Jesus, we may become more accepted as well.

Yet, too many do not know who Jesus is. That is not a new problem – Jesus has always been misunderstood – even by us. Too many have an emaciated view of Christ – Jesus was merely a religious teacher, having religious things to say, trying to bring spirituality into the real world. But such an emaciated image of Jesus would have little impact upon society – and perhaps some indeed do believe he was unable to pass muster in the “real world.”

Peter in his first epistle writes: “As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by human beings but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 2-3).

How does this define us as missional people? How are we to be in a world that misunderstands Jesus?

Jesus is the stone the builders rejected. When Jesus was asked to explain the parable of the tenants in Luke 20 – the parable in which those who were minding the vineyard thought they could inherit the vineyard by killing the owner’s son – he asked them the meaning of Psalm 118:22 “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Jesus who is rejected by all – because Jesus does not fit preconceived categories of who Jesus ought to be, is the one through whom God builds a whole new kind of building in the world – not made with stones and mortar, but with Jesus as the cornerstone and recreated human beings as living stones who identify with Christ Jesus – signified by the act of baptism. In identifying with the Rejected One, we too are rejected ones – but it is in this particularity that we are the missional people of God in the world, whom God uses as building blocks to create a whole new world (cf. Paul Stookey’s Building Block.)

God engages, not those who are the greatest or most gifted, nor the most politically astute, nor the most powerfully situated to bring about God’s redemptive mission of creating a whole new world. God seeks out those who are marginalized, those who are rejected, to identify with the Son of God who has been rejected – for through him – the cornerstone, God connects living stones in order to build a new spiritual building, a whole new community of people, a living community of people who through their lives and their living bring about God’s will on earth, just as it is in heaven.

As we read through the rest of Peter’s epistle, we discover that living missionally, doing good, involves suffering, suffering that comes through identifying with Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are a people born into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) and are called to live as foreigners, as aliens (1 Peter 1:17), and are the ones through whom God is building a new community, a community of living stones who are filled with a living hope in order to be a sign, foretaste, and instrument of God always breaking in reign in order to make the world new.

Whether we see ourselves as rejected or accepted all depends upon whom we focus our attention – if we try to follow after Jesus Christ but our attention is on the world – we will be ever battling being rejected, but if we live focused on God who has chosen and called us to be “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9), then no matter how rejected we are as the missional people of God, we know we are accepted to participate with God in being a new community in an unfolding whole new world.

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iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl